We know what it’s like taking our child to school on the first day. It’s very likely to see a scene where children recoil in horror as they see their parents leaving them at the mercy of new classmates and teachers. And we understand how this can be a harrowing experience for them. While first-day fears and jitters are normal for children, this doesn’t mean we shouldn’t help them out when it comes to overcoming them. In fact, we’re in the best position to help them overcome this fear. Here are some tips you can follow:
1 – Help your child be familiar with their new environment.
Perhaps part of what makes the idea of a new school or a new grading period quite terrifying for your child is their unfamiliarity with their environment. Even if they’re staying in the same school, the idea of having different teachers or classmates, or even different subjects and experiences, can be quite terrifying. Perhaps one of the most effective things to do past this is to help your kid be more familiar with their environment before school starts.
- Try touring the school during enrollment days. When you go to the school to pay your bills, try taking your child with you and explore the premises. Find their room together and see what the inside is like. Tour the corridors, find the nearest restrooms and fire exit, so that your child will be more familiar with the environment. The more they know where they are, the calmer they can get even if they encounter new people.
- Try talking with the teachers. During enrollment days or in the summer, try talking to teachers about their subjects and introduce your child to them. When your child gets familiar with some of the teachers, they might feel calmer during class because they know they’re in safe company.
- If you meet other parents and their children during enrollment day, try to introduce your child to them. This is especially helpful if their children are in the same grade or even class as your child. This can instantly make your child a new friend, and can also pave the way for lasting friendships with fellow parents.
2 – Encourage your child to explore their horizons.
A huge part of first-day fear can come from your child’s fear of trying new things – and this is normal. Sometimes, the prospect of failure being embarrassed, or getting hurt can really turn us off from trying something new. And this is all the more prominent in our children. What we can do in this regard is to encourage them to try out new things that they like in order to help them get used to making new friends, trying out new things, succeeding in things they haven’t tried, and learning how to get up when they fall.
- Now might be the time to ask your child what they see as their hobbies and start encouraging them to explore them better. If they like sports, try enrolling them in a summer camp at school so they can get more familiar with coaches and other schoolmates. Or if they’re eyeing to join a school club, you can encourage them to try signing up for that club as well. This gives them something to look forward to during the school year.
- Try to encourage your child to participate in community events – at least community events related to things they love. When your child gets slowly exposed to good strangers talking with them, and when they meet fellow kids to talk and play with, the more they can be more outgoing and calm whenever they feel anxious about the first day. Get your child to parties or events related to their hobbies, so they can feel safe with like-minded individuals.
- If you’re hesitant about the costs of helping your child pursue your hobby, there are a ton of ways to look for hobbies you can readily pay for.
3 – Talk with your child.
A lot of parents express their “disconnect” with their children, especially in their teens. That’s because teenagers often feel the need to want to “be on their own” to show the world that “they can pull it off.” Children might develop this mindset at an early age, especially when they know that parents have a tendency to scold them or lecture them whenever they do something wrong. While straightening them up to grow up to be good citizens is always a good thing, it can help to at least also show your children you have a side that “relates to them.” This can encourage them to talk and share their concerns with you.
- Don’t always be in a scolding mood. While it’s true that your child is capable of dealing with their first-day anxieties, they’re at an age where sometimes fear can really overwhelm them. When they open up – or if you want them to open up – about their fears and anxieties related to school, try to always put yourself in a position of someone who can talk with them calmly and at least treats them as “equals.” When they feel validated and “responsible” for their actions, the more your child might be able to share about their issues.
- Try to talk about how you dealt with your own first-day fears. When your child knows you’ve experienced the same things they’re experiencing now, the more they can see that these things can be conquered. After all, you’ve done it too. Try to tell these stories to them in a way that can pique their curiosity. “Did you know I experienced the same thing?” usually gets their attention, and try to tell your story in a way that can help them put themselves in your position.
4 – Try the help of a professional.
If nothing else seems to work, it doesn’t hurt to seek the help of a professional such as a guidance counselor or a psychiatrist. This doesn’t necessarily imply there’s a weakness to your child. However, it does help to seek the opinion and consultation of someone professionally trained to help children in order to be familiar with what exactly is going on with your child and how you can better help them. If your child seems to be afraid of opening up, it might also help to teach them the value of sharing their experiences, and how they don’t have to carry the burden of their experiences.
- You can seek the professional help of a child psychologist or a psychiatrist to get a better sense of what causes these first-day fears and how you can help your child cope. Psychiatrists and specifically child psychologists are trained to help children cope with their fears and anxieties related to school, so they can be of good assistance to help your child cope with this fear as well.
- School officials like your child’s class adviser and guidance counselor can help your child be more acquainted and familiar with the school. Their presence can also help your child know there’s a school authority they can trust and rely on whenever they encounter moments of anxiety and fear, especially when dealing with new things such as the first days of classes.
First Day Jitters: You Can Help Your Child
With the above in mind, it’s important to remember that while your child may have the first day jitters, it’s not impossible for us to help them. As we’ve likely been in the same position, we’re in the best place to support our children when it comes to dealing with these fears. Remember, with the tips above and a bit of tender loving care, you can help your child overcome whatever fears they have with regards to school.